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Cutting the Cord on Cable TV
Why I cut the cord on cable TV
Cutting the cord is one of the easiest decisions I made regarding cable TV. It required a little bit of planning, and a willingness to do a little work.
The benefits were excellent. More free time, or more shows watched due to decreased (or none!) commercials. Better quality picture and sound on some channels. You can watch shows on your own time instead of when they air. You can pause and take breaks from TV if something comes up.
Streaming Live TV, services and video
Depending on where you are, many TV channels are available over the air, just like traditional TV was before the digital revolution. Despite what antenna companies want you to think, you probably do not need a special antenna, modern televisions have a digital decoder that can receive OTA transmissions from local broadcasting.
This means channels like ABC, NBC, Fox, and the CW might be available to you, free of charge, right now. Here is a link to channels available over the air, right now, streaming free of charge.
Some people prefer to pay a streaming service a little each month to watch TV with more convenience.
What do I need to stream video from a service?
Streaming video has never been easier. If it isn't already built into your TV, you can buy a device that will connect to your television and stream very easily. You will need to connect to your device to your network either by wireless or wired connection. The most popular devices are Roku or Chromecast.
My PS3 is noisy and the controller doesn't work automatically with HULU (you can fix this by opening hulu, holding the PS button, and choosing to reassign the controller to 1 from 7). It is a recurrent problem with the service.
You can stream to one of the many video game systems as well. A wii/wii U, PS3/PS4 and Xbox 360/one work very well to stream to your TV. It might also be very convenient to use the gaming systems, because they will all play DVDs as well, and in some cases blu-ray.
I myself use a PS3 in my bedroom, a wii in my boys room.
If I had to start over, I would purchase a Roku 3, possibly a chromecast. I may yet. The Roku 3 has a spot so you can listen with headphones, important if you stay up late and want your significant other to sleep. The Roku 3 can also play some games, like angry birds!
The Chromecast has a lot of portability. Amazon prime does not stream directly to the chromecast, however you can also "cast a tab" from your computer to your chromecast, getting around this.
Both Chromecast and Roku can be controlled by a smartphone. The Roku comes with a controller as well.
What streaming service should I use?
Choosing a streaming service can be a little daunting at first, but I have done some research and can provide some insight. The three main streaming services as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
Hulu focuses on television shows. Hulu's main strength is getting shows much sooner than the other two services. If you want to watch TV shows shortly after they are released, Hulu has most available about 8 days after they are released. Most android and iPhones can install an app that will allow streaming to your phone. You might need a wifi connection for it to be successful.
Netflix has the largest library of shows and movies, by far. They also have original shows including "House of Cards" with Kevin Spacey. They tend to get television shows slower than Hulu. Most android and iPhones can install an app that will allow streaming to your phone. You might need a wifi connection for it to be successful.
Amazon prime has the smallest library of shows and movies, but comes with certain other benefits, like being able to borrow books from Amazon's library on your kindle, and free 2-day shipping.on most amazon products. Note: Without some trickery, you CANNOT stream to your android or iOS (apple) device. You can stream to a kindle fire.
How much does it cost?
Netflix and Hulu are both about 8 dollars per month. This is just under 100 dollars per year, which is much less than the cable bill I was getting!
I have had Netflix previously, but not currently. Netflix was very easy to use, had no commercials, and had a large library of movies. There weren't as many current television shows, but a huge amount of older TV shows.
Hulu has more current shows, but DOES show commercials. The commercial breaks are shorter than normal TV. A 60 minute show on normal TV might take 50 minutes instead (with 45 minutes of actual content, 5 minutes of commercials)
Amazon Prime was just increased to $99 per year. If you buy from amazon frequently or own a kindle, it might make sense to get Amazon prime for the other benefits it gives.
I did a trial of Amazon prime, but cancelled because of the small library and lack of streaming to my smartphone.
So, which is best?
The best stand-alone device is probably the Roku3. It streams from the three services I mentioned, as well as a plethora of others. It is fast, comes with a controller that you can add headphones to.
The best portable device is the Chromecast, but Roku is set to provide some competition shortly with a similar product.
The best gaming system that can also stream would mostly depend on the game titles you want to play. Remember that the Xbox versions require an Xbox Live subscription, which would increase the amount you are paying per year a bit. The Playstation/Hulu controller issue is annoying.
You might want to also read WHY I cut the cord.